Colonel Montgomery's expedition.
Hilton head, June 17, 1863.early on the morning of the eleventh instant, Colonel Montgomery left St. Simon's Island, where his brigade is now encamped, to present his compliments to the rebels of Georgia, having the week before sent them to those of South-Carolina. This force consisted of five companies of the Second South-Carolina, eight companies of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, Colonel Shaw, all negro, and the Third Rhode Island battery, Captain Brayton. The gunboat John Adams, Captain Smith, and the transports Sentinel and Harriet A. Weed, constituted the fleet. The expedition ready, the order was given to sail through Dubois Sound, and up the Altamaha River, the largest stream in Georgia, to the village of Darien, which is said to have contained before the war some two thousand inhabitants, most of whom were wedded to the rebel cause. As the John Adams approached the village she poured a constant shower of shot and shell into the woods, along the shore, and into the town, as she came up to the wharf. The few “crackers” and paupers remaining in the place ran frightened and terror-stricken in every direction, and when Colonel Montgomery landed his troops, he found not a single armed inhabitant to dispute his right. Through the activity of some of the negro soldiers, a few of these poor “white trash” were caught, who told the story of there being a strong cavalry force within five miles of the place, which may or may not have been true. At any rate, Colonel Montgomery, from the information obtained from them, did not desist from his original purpose, but marched nearly his whole force into the town, posted his sentries and prepared to do his work. In a few hours all the valuable property he could find, of a movable character, was transferred to his boats. A large quantity of second-class furniture, considerable live stock, horses, cows, and sheep, and rice and corn, sufficient to feed his command for at least a month, was thus disposed of. The inhabitants driven out and the town sacked, the next step in Colonel Montgomery's programme was to burn and destroy every thing he could not carry off with him. In a few moments the principal buildings were all in flames, and, a strong south-west wind prevailing at the time, the whole village was soon enshrouded in flame and smoke, and before the expedition returned, not a single tenantable habitation remained. Darien destroyed, Major Corwin of the Second South-Carolina took the Harriet A. Weed and proceeded up the river in search of a rebel craft he had heard of through some negroes. When four miles up the stream he found the report to be correct, and overhauled and captured a copper-bottomed schooner, a large flat-boat, and eighty bales of long staple cotton, estimated to be worth thirty thousand dollars. Major Corwin was absent from Darien two hours, and when he returned with his prize, was received by the Massachusetts and South-Carolina negro soldiers with nine tremendous cheers. These bold, rapid, and successful expeditions of Colonel Montgomery are spreading terror throughout the entire coast, and are compelling the rebels to abandon their rice and cotton fields and all the smaller villages which would be at all likely to be visited by him.
A National account.
St. Simon's Island, Ga., Tuesday, June 16, 1863.When I last wrote we were just leaving Beau. fort, on the eve of an expedition into Secessia. That expedition has been made, was eminently successful and bloodless, but how.far creditable to us, and fruitful in results, I leave you to judge after you have heard the particulars. All Sunday afternoon of the seventh and until eleven o'clock at night, we were at work with ten teams  and one hundred and twenty-five men, carrying our stores and luggage from the camp and stowing it on board the transport, from which it had only been removed two days before. The men worked like heroes, and by one o'clock the work was done, and we marched back to camp and “turned in” on the open ground. We had only three hours sleep, for we broke camp at four o'clock Monday morning, and took up our march to the wharf. It is a “big job” simply to march and stow away one thousand men on board a vessel. After several delays at last all was ready, and we swung off at nine o'clock, the men cheering and singing their “John Brown.” At noon we reached Hilton Head, where the Colonel reported for orders. He got them, and to this effect: to proceed immediately to St. Simon's Island, and join Montgomery. By six P. M. we were off again, bound south-west, and on Tuesday morning at six o'clock, dropped anchor off the southern end of St. Simon's Island, in sight of the plantation of T. Butler King. Here several of us went ashore, the Colonel to ride across the Island to Montgomery's camp for further orders. I, with the Adjutant and Doctor, took the opportunity to look about the plantation. The house was occupied by a negro sergeant with a squad of men, but utterly deserted by its former owners. But it was a splendid place! It would make your eyes open to see things grow here, and to see what grows! Tamarinds and oranges were all about me, to say nothing of figs. And then the whole catalogue of tropical plants and flowers, such as we only see at home in hot houses, are here so abundantly and luxuriantly spread before you, that you are lost in wonder and delight. But the live oaks are the most magnificent spectacle of all; they are large and symmetrical, and almost invariably, too, festooned with a peculiar, dark, parasitic vine which adds a strange weirdness to their sturdy grandeur. The Colonel returned with orders to land at a place further up, called Old Frederica. The De Molay could not proceed, and we had to await a transport of lighter draught, which Montgomery was to send to us. It came alongside at noon, and proved to be the Sentinel, but looked like a New-York canal-boat built up a story. The Colonel, with eight companies, went on board and proceeded immediately to camp. Headquarters are established in a large two-story dwelling house close to the wharf; the line officers and men are in tents. Two companies (two hundred men) were set at work on the cargo, and I never saw men work so in my life. We all supposed we were going on an expedition the next day, and they had no idea of being left. We opened both hatchways, and put a hundred men at work on each. Consider, we were anchored in the stream, and the boat we were to transfer the cargo to, was off and would not be back for several hours. Of course we could hurry matters only by hoisting out the cargo and stowing it on deck. We fell to about three o'clock. At six the transport was alongside, and at ten we had every thing transferred to her decks! It was quick work, but the men worked as if for their very lives. Waited on the tide till two o'clock in the morning, (Wednesday,) when we got under way, and reached camp at five o'clock. Took a fresh relay of two hundred men and ran the cargo ashore. We “confiscated” and seized upon an old barn close to headquarters, put twenty-five men to work on it, cleaned it out and rushed the stores in there as fast as they came ashore. It was very large, and now that it is well filled, looks like a large wholesale store. We had the cargo all out by the middle of the forenoon. In the afternoon we began to distribute and pitch tents. In the thick of this came an order from Montgomery to embark immediately on the Sentinel and report at his camp! The long-roll was sounded — and — I can give you no idea of what followed. We had heard the roll often enough, but never before the long-roll — the long-roll that means fight The men rushed pell-mell to their quarters, seized their guns, filled their haversacks, and fell in by companies. Two companies were detailed to stay behind and guard the camp, and they formed a sad contrast to the others, I assure you. The rest were all aboard the transport in an hour from the time we received the order. We proceeded down the river about five miles to Montgomery's camp. Here we joined the other vessels of the expedition, which made up as follows, all told: Flag-ship John Adams, (an old friend, to wit, East-Boston ferry-boat,) with part of the Second South-Carolina, numbering eight hundred, on board; the Harriet A. Weed, with the rest of the Second, (formerly a North River boat, I should say;) the Sentinel, with the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts volunteers; and the gunboat Paul Jones, carrying eight guns, two eleven-inch, three pivot, and three side. The John Adams also had four or five guns, including one large Parrott. It was truly quite a formidable expedition. All the vessels got under way, and proceeded down the river about sunset. The prominent idea of the expedition was to “run off” slaves, and also get what rebel stores we could. The plan was this: to sail with all speed up the Altamaha River to Fort Barrington, there disembark, send the boats below to Darien, and then march the regiment thither, sweeping all the slaves on before us. Thus we would sweep a district of some twenty or thirty miles in length. Could we have carried this out, no doubt we should have been richly repaid, but we met with so many delays that it became impracticable. We had gone but a little ways down the river when our boat ran aground, and the tide being on the ebb, there she staid till morning. This was unfortunate, for it necessitated making the whole trip by daylight, in place of by night. We grounded several times in going up the Altamaha, and altogether consumed so much time that the rebels had leisure to spread the news all over Georgia. They made their preparations accordingly, deserting all the plantations near the river, and, judging from the smoke, burning many a rice-mill and store-house further in the interior. We shelled the woods on both  sides as we advanced, but failed to find an enemy. The country for miles on both banks of the river was flat and marshy, and of the most uninviting kind. The river itself was so muddy and red you could hardly persuade yourself there wasn't an immense brick-yard underneath. It was full of alligators of all sizes and degrees of ugliness. It was past noon when we reached Darien, and, of course, from the warning we had given, it was useless to proceed further — we should find the country deserted, go where we would. Not a soul was to-be seen in Darien. We were ordered to disembark and form in line of battle in the public square. Pickets were sent out to the limits of the town. Orders were then given to search the town, take what could be found of value to the vessels, and then fire it. Officers then started off in every direction, with squads of men to assist. In a very short time every house in town was broken into and the work of pillage and selection was begun. The fire had begun, too, from the lower end of the town (caused by a shell thrown before we landed) and a high wind was driving it resistlessly up the main street. Soon the men began to come in in twos, threes, and dozens, loaded with every species and all sorts and quantities of furniture, stores, trinkets, etc., etc., till one would be tired enumerating. We had sofas, tables, pianos, chairs, mirrors, carpets, beds, bedsteads, carpenters' tools, coopers' tools, books, law books, account books in unlimited supply, china sets, tin ware, earthen ware, confederate shinplasters, old letters, papers, etc., etc., etc. A private would come along with a slate, yardstick, and brace of chickens in one hand, a table on his head, and in the other hand a rope with a cow attached. (I here actually described Milo's state on his first return to the ship.) An immense pile of lumber lay on the wharf, and men were detailed to load it on the boats. Droves of sheep and cows were driven in and put aboard. Along the shore were large warehouses of rice and rosin — what rosin we could, we put aboard. While this was going on, the Harriet A. Weed steamed up the river and captured a schooner and flatboat with eighty-five bales of cotton. She was loudly cheered as she passed us on her way down. Darien contained from seventy-five to one hundred houses, not counting slave cabins, of which there were several to every house, the number varying evidently according to the wealth of the proprietor: one fine broad street along the river, the rest starting out from it. All of them were shaded on both sides, not with young saplings, but good sturdy oaks and mulberries, that told of a town of both age and respectability. It was a beautiful town, and never did it look so both grand and beautiful as in its destruction. As soon as a house was ransacked, the match was applied, and by six o'clock the whole town was in one sheet of flame. It was a magnificent spectacle, but still very few were found to gloat over it. Had we had a hard fight to gain the place, or had we taken a thousand slaves by its destruction, we would have had no compunctions. And I suppose we should have none any way. The South must be conquered inch by inch, and what we can't put a force in to hold, ought to be destroyed. If we must burn the South out, so be it. The store-houses along the river were fired last, and the burning of their was the signal for departure. We hurried on board, and well it was for us — it was so hot then we could not stay on that side of the boat next the wharf. Had the wind shifted, no power on earth could have saved us — we barely escaped as it was. It was sundown as we dropped into the stream. A whole town on fire, from one end to the other! it isn't often one sees it, and it's seldom he wants to. But it is a spectacle grand in the extreme. When the rosin took fire a dense black smoke rolled up and almost, shut out the light of the conflagration. As night came on, a terrific thunder-storm came up, and heaven's artillery finished the havoc that ours had begun. We anchored in the stream for the night. Thus began, continued and ended the first expedition or raid into Secessia, in which the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts bore a part. We have all only this comment to make — we pray God that the next town we burn we may first have to fight to get it. We reached camp next day, Friday, about three P. M. The next morning the plunder was divided, and now it is scattered all over camp, but put to good use, the whole of it. Some of the quarters really look princely, with their sofas, divans, pianos, etc. In place of the customary privations of camp, we have almost the comforts of home, with not a few of its luxuries. Don't get the idea that the rebels had taken themselves away only. They took every thing they could carry off in the time they had. Many houses had absolutely nothing in them of value to any body. St. Simon's Island is flat, but wonderfully productive and beautiful. It has never been my fortune before to see its equal. Our camp is close on to the old town of Frederica, which in its palmy days had some three thousand inhabitants. Now it has not one. The north end of the island forms Pierce Butler's plantation — Fanny Kemble's husband, and the man who had that immense auction sale of negroes several years ago. It is deserted now, save by some dozen or two darkies, once Butler's slaves. “Ole massa run away, de darkies stay at home.” Truly the “Kingdom is coming” to these poor blacks. The weather here is warm, and uniformly so. We have had nothing here yet hotter than our July's best at home. Thus far I have experienced no great inconvenience from the heat, and am in good health and good spirits day in and day out. *
A rebel account.
Savannah, June 16, 1863.Our readers have been informed that the city of Darien, one of the oldest towns in the State, the New-Inverness of Oglethorpe's time, has been totally destroyed by Yankee negro forces. We have been kindly permitted to make some extracts  from private letters received by one of our citizens, which contain some facts in relation to this crowning act of wanton vandalism on Georgia soil which have not before been published. A citizen of Darien, writing from “Dunwoody's Plantation, near where Darien once stood,” under date of June twelfth, says:
What has been so long threatened has at length come to pass. Darien is now one plain of ashes and blackened chimneys. The accursed Yankee negro vandals came up yesterday with three gunboats and two transports, and laid the city in ruins. There are but three small houses left in the place. The Methodist church was set on fire, but it did not burn. All the other churches, the market-house, court-house, jail and clerk's office are all gone. The villains broke open all the houses and stores and took what they wanted, and then poured spirits of turpentine over the floors and applies the torch. It is a sad sight to see the smoking ruins now. The wretches shot the milch cows and calves down in the streets, took some of them on board their vessels, and left the rest lying in the streets, where they still lie. They carried off every negro that was in the place, except one old African woman named Nancy, who told them she was from Africa, and that she would not go again on the big water. After destroying the town, on their way to Dobb's they burned Mr. Morris's plantation buildings. For myself, I feel this calamity severely. You know I have lost heavily since the war commenced; but I had still a good home left. This is now also gone. The value in money I would not have thought so much of, as I am getting used to it; but there is something in the word home that puts money out of the question. And then to think it was burned in broad daylight by the cowardly Yankee negro thieves. But a truce to regrets. One of the boats started to come up Cathead Creek to this place, but the sneaking rascals changed their minds, and contented themselves with sending us a few compliments in the shape of shells. We of course had to leave here for a time, and, as there are more raids expected, I have concluded to remove a little way into the pine woods until I see whether I can harvest my crop or not. The town was destroyed by a negro regiment officered by white men. They left a book, which I found, and in which the following entry was made, and which I presume is a list of the regimental officers. The writing is in a large, coarse hand, and in pencil. Stewart W. Woods, June eleventh, 1863, Company I, Fifty-fourth Massachusetts volunteers; Penn Township, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania; Stewart W. Woods was born September twenty-first, 1824. Hidlers, Hidlersburgh, Adams County, Pennsylvana, Fifty-fourth Massachusetts volunteers, Fifty-fourth regiment Massachusetts volunteers of Colonel Shaw. Captain G. Pope; First Lieutenant Higginson; Second Lieutenant Tucker. Should these Yankee negro brigades ever fall into our hands the above record may be useful.